Being Boring – International art in Reykjavík´s Living Art Museum


The Living Art Museum (Nýló) will open Being Boring, an exhibition about boredom at Nýló’s project space Núllið (zero), Friday 8th April at 5 pm, in Bankastræti 0, 101 Reykjavík. During the opening three students from the Iceland Art Academy will recreate and perform John Baldessari’s work I will not make any more boring art. The exhibition is curated by Gareth Bell-Jones and Gemma Lloyd.

Being Boring, an exhibition about boredom; the emotional state that is so familiar and so seemingly without value, that we tend to be dismissive of it without further consideration. The title for this project comes from a 1990 song by the Pet Shop Boys, which was in turn inspired by a quote from Zelda Fitzgerald’s 1922 essay Eulogy on the Flapper: “She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring”. In this exhibition we diverge from Fitzgerald’s off-hand take and suggest boredom, or a response to boredom, is central in the creative act and impulse to create. Due to advances in digital technology, many of us belong to a society in a constant state of distraction; a culture where the state of existential boredom has been accelerated without us necessarily feeling bored. Including work by John Baldessari, Phil Coy, Lucy Clout, Emma Hart, William Hunt, Sam Porritt and Peter Wächtler, this exhibition brings together artists exploring different approaches and responses to boredom in their work and examines this deceptively complex emotional state.

With the participation of students of the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Being Boring presents a recreation of John Baldessari’s seminal 1971 ‘punishment piece’ I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art. Originally commissioned by the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, Canada, Baldessari asked student volunteers to write the phrase—drawn from the margins of his personal notebooks—on the walls of the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. While the repetitive, mundane exercise of re-writing a phrase served as a means to instil an important value in the students, it also conflicted with the instruction itself—to not make boring art. This recreation remains faithful to the artist’s same instructions some 45 years ago and will continue to be added to over the course of the show.